Sanford, Larry D.

  • Professor & Director Center For Integrative Neuroscience And Inflammatory Diseases, Pathology and Anatomy


  • Dr. Sanford obtained a Bachelor's degree in psychology at North Georgia College and Masters and PhD degrees in physiological psychology at the University of Georgia. This was followed by postdoctoral training in sleep neurobiology through the National Multi-site Training Program for Basic Sleep Research under the direction of Dr. Adrian Morrison at the University of Pennsylvania. He subsequently obtained a research faculty position at the University of Pennsylvania and conducted work on the neural regulation of rapid eye movement sleep.

    He moved to Eastern Virginia Medical School as an Associate Professor in 1999 and was promoted to Professor in 2004. He currently is the founding director of the Center for Integrative Neuroscience and Inflammatory Diseases. At EVMS, he has developed a research program focused primarily on understanding interactions between sleep, stress, learning, and the immune system in the development of trauma related psychopathology, and more recently in determining how interactions amongst inflight stressors and sleep disturbances can impact health and performance in astronauts on space missions. Outside his work on sleep and stress, collaborative research projects have included work on the development of neural sensors, modeling and simulation of neural processes and behavior, and determining the effects of stressor controllability on response to infectious challenge, amongst others.

selected publications

research overview

  • Dr. Sanford's primary research program has long been focused on understanding the complex behavioral and neurobiological processes that can lead to lasting changes in psychological health. Over the last several years, his work has examined the interactions between stress, learning and memory and sleep in mediating the consequences of traumatic experiences. Much of this work has utilized variants of experimental conditioned fear, one of our most important models for posttraumatic stress disorder as well as other stress-related psychiatric disorders. He was the first to demonstrate that changes in sleep could be conditioned to fear-inducing stimuli and his lab has produced the most cohesive body of work on the relationship between fear conditioning and sleep. The Sanford lab has also has produced the most significant body of work on the role of the amygdala, a critical region for mediating conditioned fear, in regulating sleep and fear and stress-induced changes in sleep. Our work provides insight into the neural mechanisms underlying the disturbed sleep that often are some of the most troubling symptoms of stress-related disorders.

    Recent work in the lab has begun to examine the role that sleep plays in mediating the effects of inflight stress and space radiation which we hope will contribute to the success of the planned mission to Mars. Additional collaborative research projects are focused on delineating neurocircuits and neural communication underlying the reciprocal influences between emotion and sleep, neural mechanisms underlying the differential effects of controllable and uncontrollable stress on the neuroimmune response, and on the effects of sleep disturbances on the immune system and metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. Our lab is also interested in the neural mechanisms that determine individual differences in stress resilience and vulnerability and in developing predictive models of the neurobiological and behavioral effects of traumatic stress.

preferred title

  • Professor & Director Center For Integrative Neuroscience And Inflammatory Diseases

full name

  • Larry D. Sanford, PhD


Recent publications and grants in Researchers@EVMS